Susan Burton and
Laura Starecheski and
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The patients in this story came to the Yale Fertility Center to pursue pregnancy. They began their I.V.F. cycles full of expectation and hope. Then a surgical procedure called egg retrieval caused them excruciating pain.
Some of the patients screamed out in the procedure room. Others called the clinic from home to report pain in the hours that followed. But most of the staff members who fielded the patients’ reports did not know the real reason for the pain, which was that a nurse at the clinic was stealing fentanyl and replacing it with saline.
From Serial Productions and The New York Times, The Retrievals is a five-part narrative series reported by Susan Burton, a veteran staff member at “This American Life” and author of the memoir “Empty.”
Burton details the events that unfolded at the clinic, and examines how the patients’ distinct identities informed the way they made sense of what happened to them in the procedure room. The nurse, too, has her own story, about her own pain, that she tells to the court. And then there is the story of how this all could have happened at the Yale clinic in the first place.
Throughout, Burton explores the stories we tell about women’s pain. How do we tolerate, interpret and account for it? What happens when pain is minimized or dismissed?
Listen to The Retrievals
Patients at a fertility clinic experience excruciating, unexpected pain. For months the reason for that pain remains hidden. Then they get a letter from the clinic.
The patients know what happened to them. Now they learn who did it. The story of the nurse whose own pain was also unseen.
At the nurse’s sentencing hearing, the patients learn a shocking detail that forces them to confront the limits of their compassion.
Behind the Series
Susan Burton is a longtime staff member at “This American Life,” where she has produced, edited and reported some of the show’s most memorable episodes about women’s experiences. She is the author of the memoir “Empty.”
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About the Music
Carla Pallone is a composer based in France. After classical training as a violinist, she performed in the bands Mansfield.TYA and VACΛRME. She now composes music for cinema and the theater, and has written music for films including “La Fille au Bracelet,” “Libre Garance!” and “Midnight Skin.”
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Reported, produced and hosted by Susan Burton
Produced and edited by Laura Starecheski
Executive Editor, Serial Productions Julie Snyder
Supervising Producer, Serial Productions Ndeye Thioubou
Music supervision and sound design by Phoebe Wang
Original score by Carla Pallone
Music mixing by Thomas Poli at Impersonal Freedom
Research and fact-checking by Ben Phelan and Caitlin Love
Standards Editor Susan Wessling
Legal review by Dana Green
Art direction by Pablo Delcan
Additional editing by Katie Mingle and Ira Glass
Additional production by Michelle Navarro
Deputy Managing Editor Sam Dolnick
Producing help by Jeffrey Miranda, Kelly Doe, Renan Borelli, Desiree Ibekwe and Anisha Muni
Special thanks to Erik Tanner, Pierre Cattoni, Lee Riffaterre, Katie Fuchs, Jordan Cohen, Victoria Kim, Jason Fujikuni, Kimmy Tsai, Ashka Gami, Nina Lassam, Jon McNally, Krystal Plomatos and Sam Posner.